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Tips for Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

By vts | October 26, 2016
Tips for Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

Only 29% of millennials in the workplace are engaged.

That means less than one-third of millennial employees are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and the company.

What does that mean for managers at your company? Do your leaders know about this reality–and do they have a strategy to deal with it?

They may think the numbers don’t apply to their department or divisions, but the fact is that 55% of millennials are simply not engaged. They are predominantly “checked out” and not putting energy or passion into their jobs. They’re indifferent about their work, just showing up and putting in the required hours.

It gets worse. Nearly one in every six millennials in corporate America today is actively disengaged, looking for opportunities to harm the companies that employ them.#

So how can your leaders keep millennials engaged in the face of such challenging statistics?

The answer lies in challenging the misperception that millennials are compulsive job-hoppers. Figures on job tenure for twenty-something Americans are the same today as they were thirty years ago.

Millennials have seen too many examples of loyalty to a company not paying off, such as when their parents’ pension funds collapsed and their jobs were outsourced overseas.

The truth is that the average tenure of a millennials in the workplace is two years, but they change jobs because they want personal growth.

That is a key truth your company’s managers must understand.

Forbes contributor Jeff Fromm explains, “Millennials embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and they are often on the lookout for opportunities that can continue to move them up the ladder, even if that means up and out of their current position.”

Your managers need to know that most millennials in the workplace want to be leaders, and if they are in a position where they feel their leadership skills are not being developed, they don’t stay.

Per the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, 71% of the millennials who said they were planning to leave their employer in the next two years were doing so because their “leadership skills were not being fully developed.”#

Furthermore, USA Today reports that most millennials would be willing to give up higher pay (an average of $7,600 per year) for a better situation at the office, including more career development opportunities.

Bottom line: If your managers and department leaders want to keep the millennial employees they’ve worked so hard to recruit — and keep them fully engaged, they must ensure those millennials have what they need to grow.

5 Tips for Keeping Millennials Engaged

Giving millennials what they need to develop more fully doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require your managers and leaders to be proactive. Pass these tips along to empower them to engage the millennials they lead:

  1. Actively invest in their growth. Your managers must budget for relevant training and ensure the training brings value to millennial workers. They can use funds effectively by bring experts to their teams instead of transporting the teams to the experts. Workshops, seminars, online training —all of it can help keep millennials engaged if your managers intentionally align the training with the needs of their teams.
  2. Let them know you value their input. Millennials want to make a meaningful contribution. One of the easiest ways for your leaders to let them do that is to ask for their input on decisions. Millennials bring an understanding of technology and a way of thinking about problems that can enrich the other generational perspectives on your team. When your leaders invite them to share, they’re inviting buy-in—and greater engagement.
  3. Give them ownership of existing projects. More than any other generation in the workplace, millennial workers want some level of control over their own destiny. Your managers can give that by authorizing them to make improvements to projects and giving them ownership of those projects. By giving up some control on the front-end, they increase the odds of retaining those high-quality millennial employees in the long-term.
  4. Encourage them to be creative. Your managers can channel the entrepreneurial drive by encouraging “start-up” projects. Empower millennials to exercise their entrepreneurial muscles by letting them test new ideas. Give incentives to reward them when they succeed. By giving them room to make small failures, your leaders will encourage learning and invite innovation.
  5. Be flexible but fair. Make sure your leaders are willing to try flexible work arrangements with millennial employees. Set clear boundaries and expectations for the practice, then follow through on those guidelines. They should consider offering greater flexibility as a reward for production or accomplishment. By setting clear expectations, they protect the company and ensure fairness.

Your managers don’t have to settle for less than 1/3 of their millennial employees being fully engaged. Your company can be different, if your team leaders intentionally create an environment where millennials can thrive.


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